Here are a selection of writings & short stories. Please don’t nick the stories; I’d rather you linked to them. However, if you do wish to reproduce them, you must follow the terms defined by the Creative Commons license. Also, it’d be quite polite if you emailed me at

Ta very much for reading them though, leave feedback if you wish.




– a month in maroc.


life through text.
it all came down to this.
sweaty john.
– one night in essex.





If you’re not sure whether to read on, why not read this test piece below. It is one example from the collection listed above.




it all came down to this.

I could vaguely remember a snatch of a dream; images flashing by from my slumber. I was standing ankle-deep on a beach, somewhere I’d been before. It was pebbly, not sandy and I held something in my hand that was sludgy. I didn’t recognise it and I was racking my brain, trying to concentrate on what it was. I was naked from the bottom down; my top half clad in a polo neck jumper.
Next thing I knew, a huge tidal wave was upon me and I was smashed to the floor as it enveloped me. I was swept under and the water kept on coming. A hand clutched at my leg, trying to pull me further in and I woke up, sweating, with an urge to urinate.
I reached to the bottle on the side and popped the cap. I took a valium with some water (prescribed for my recent panic attacks) and I lay down to sleep again.

When I woke up, I’d almost forgotten about the dream completely. I walked into the bathroom, sat down and urinated. But as soon as I glanced at the time, the dream was of no concern.
It was approaching.
I looked over at the clock – 08:11 – and worked out the numbers in my head.
Four hours, three minutes and fourteen seconds (thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten)…. Everything revolved around 12:15.
My own little judgement day.
I sat up, flushed and walked back towards the bed. As I moved, my knees gave way as a wave of nausea hit me. I lay down back down on the bed, grabbed the duvet and wrapped myself up in a cocoon.
Rain splattered against the window outside.

Stuart had taken the kids to nursery and hadn’t woken me up when he got up. What a sweetie. I hadn’t slept much during the night you see, tossing and turning; thoughts just passing by in my head. And then the dream.
We had gone to bed early, ignoring the shit on the box and he curled up behind me, enveloping his arms around me, holding me tightly as I wept with fear. I had felt his breath on the back of my neck as he lightly kissed by neck bone and shoulders, repeating ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’. His arms were around me, his chest to my back, his crotch touching my bum – our bodies touching in synergy. Then as the minutes passed, he was finally asleep. I looked out of the window for hours, staring at the branch of the oak tree by our house.
I saw a robin, out of season, bouncing perkily along, poking at the branch with its beak. I felt like I should be thinking of everything special, everything amazing and beautiful. The kids, Stuart, my mum… but all I could think about was me. The end of me. My life ceasing to be.

Morning came and as I lay in bed, I reached down into my bag. I looked at the pack of Davidoff I bought yesterday. I hadn’t smoked in twelve years, not since I was pregnant.
I could remember when I’d smoked my last one: sitting in my old flat, on the toilet seat, waiting for the little line to turn blue.
I tore off the cellophane wrapper and the silver foil, revealing the white tips of the filters. I passed one to my mouth and looked for a light. The bedside cabinet, top drawer. An empty book of matches. Second drawer, no luck. Third drawer, no luck.
‘For fuck’s sake.’
I felt the anger rise within me and threw the box to the floor. SMOKING KILLS stared back at me in thick writing, black and white, the warning sign taking up half the packet.
What does it matter?

Rising from the bed, I walked out of the door and down the stairs. Entering the kitchen I strolled to the cooker and lit the hob. Bending to it, I lit the cigarette and inhaled, coughing and spluttering as the smoke entered my lungs. Realising that Stuart would smell it; I opened the kitchen door, the sound of the splattering rain commanding attention. As I stood in the open doorway, I inhaled again, this time smoother, with no coughing, exhaled deeply, relaxing as the nicotine entered my bloodstream. I felt light headed. Towards the end of the garden I could see washing on the line, already soaked from the morning rain. Had I put that out to dry?
I couldn’t remember, but I knew it didn’t matter. It was already wet now.
If it’s already decided, you can’t fix it.
As I looked at the washing line, I saw the parade of clothes. Baby Gap jeans for Tom and nice little buttoned shirts with faded stains of mealtime disasters. Little socks for Lucy and dresses with frilly edges. They were so small and yet she could fit inside them. Would she end up like me? I said a little prayer to the heavens, pleading that she wouldn’t and the realisation was too much. Have I harmed her with my blood, my genes?
I slumped to floor, the cigarette’s ash flicking onto my bare skin and broke into tears, weeping and screaming with frustration, letting the tip burn on my leg, breaking the skin. Through my bleary eyes, I glanced the clock. Three hours to go.

Back upstairs, I stared at myself in the full-length mirror. Propelled by an urge, I threw off my nightie and dressing gown and stood naked, surveying myself with my eyes. Starting with my head, my eyes passed down my face, my shoulders, my breasts, my navel and stomach, my sparse pubic hair, down to my legs and feet. How would I look down the line? I stepped into the shower and turned on the taps, allowing the water to cascade through my hair and over my body. I stood for what seemed like an age and again, felt the tears welling up in me. I collapsed to the shower floor and heaved, crying, my tears mixing with the clean water spraying down upon me. I vomited and rose up to my knees. And then I thought, fuck it, and I felt it.
For only the second time, I felt it.
I hadn’t been able to since I found it.
And it was still there.
That’s when Stuart came home and found me.
Vomiting in the shower.
Crying uncontrollably.

The waiting room was the worst. We were early so we had to wait. There was no-one else in the room and the lack of windows and the posters on the wall made me feel claustrophobic. A poster from Breast Cancer Care stood out in a pastel purple, hung with aging blu-tak on the wall:


After ten minutes of holding hands and staring straight ahead, the door to the office opened and out walked Doctor Johnson, a young Doctor in his 20s, new in town, clad in a cream shirt and jeans. Holding the door open, a young woman, no more than 20 walked out, re-arranging her strappy top and pulling up her jeans.
“Thank you Doctor.”
“That’s no problem Mrs. Stewart. Better safe than sorry.”
“Call me Tamzin, please.”
“Ok Tamzin. Be seeing you.”
Turning to me, he spoke again:
“Ah, Mr and Mrs Phillips, please come through.”

As we entered the room I zoned out. It was a dream again. All a dream.
The Doctor offered his outstretched hand to me, but I’d already slumped into one of two chairs opposite his desk. Steve shook it instead.
My vision was skewed, I could see the Doctor but all around him was pitch black. I could feel my husband’s hands on mine but I couldn’t see him. All I could do was stare straight ahead.
“Well, let’s get started shall we.”
He turned to me.
“Mrs. Phillips. Obviously you remember that we you undertook a mammogram and an ultrasound upon your last visit. We also carried out also a fine-needle aspiration.”
He paused, and then I realised I was meant to answer.
I nodded.
He paused again, looking over the chart in front of him at the desk. Slowly, he looked up at me. Stuart couldn’t stand it anymore:
“Come on Doc, just tell us.”
“Well, we identified the lump through the procedures and it seems… well, the lump is what we call ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, for short.”
What did that mean?
“Is… is it cancer?” I said.
“It is breast cancer, but a very early form. Your lump specifically, is not developed and we’ve caught it very early on. We are positive that we can get a successful outcome”
I realise that I was meant to talk here again. But all I could think was, ‘I knew it. I knew it. I knew it…’
Stuart was thinking ahead:
“So… what do we do?”
I couldn’t even concentrate as my mind just ran away with me. Images flashed through my mind from school, university, of family, friends, living rooms, glasses of wine, jogging, the kids, Thailand, holidays, the times I’d been in hospital before, the kids, their birth…
All the time glimpses of their words permeated the scenes flashing through my head…
Mastectomy. Operation. Surgery. Low-grade. Carcinoma. Early. Removal. Tissue. Non-invasive. Invasive. Cancer. Awareness. Lucky. Saved her life. Microcalfications. September. Reconstruction. Nipple. Lump. Remove. Excision…
I came back to reality.
“It’ll probably be a few months until the surgery will take place, but think of it like a pre-emptive move, if you will. It’s the best chance of us eliminating the cancer.”
Then I stood.
“I have to go.”
“Mrs. Phillips, sit down please, we should talk about this some more, there’s information that needs to be discussed…”
“I have to go.”
Stuart spoke: “Anne, sit down. We need to sort out what we do.”
“I can’t…. I can’t do this. I need to be outside, the air…”
I was beginning to breathe heavily, I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t breathe, my chest was getting tighter, the lump, that’s all I could think of. My breast. Surgery, mastectomy.
“You’re in good hands, Anne. We can beat this.”
And then I fainted.


As Anne Phillips was lifted onto the Doctor’s bed and given water, she awoke to see her husband smiling down on her. Leaning down to her ear, he whispered:
“This is nothing. Not for us. We can beat this. I don’t care what they have to do, we have strength. Me and you, kiddo, all the way.”
The bleary-eyed woman looked to her husband and for the first time today, smiled.

In the hallway outside, a cleaning lady passes by, pushing a metal cage stacked full of blankets. Winding her way through corridors and double doors, she reaches her location on the opposite side of the building. She unpacks them into a cupboard and closes the door: ‘SUPPLIES’. She heads off again, repeating the same journey.

A minute later, a nurse walks to the door, opens it, and removes three of them, tightly wrapped in see-through plastic. She walks down the corridor and enters a double door.
She goes to a cot and picks up a new-born baby, just one hour old.
“Oh yes, come here little one.”
It strains to open its eyes and begins to stir, before falling back to sleep.


by James Grainger, ©inadvisable? 2006

<if this story resonated in any way, please consider making a donation (however small) to Breast Cancer Care. For a direct link to their secure online donations page, click here.>


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License.
it all came down to this. 2006 James Grainger


One Response to “writings & stories”

  1. that’s why it will never wor. Andreas Tennyson.

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